Thulisile Lekalake, a 22 year-old from Kwamhlanga is one of eight young South Africans aged 18 to 23 who have been chosen to take part in the world’s longest ocean race as part of the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation relay team.
After completing her matric in 2013 Thulisile wanted to study journalism but because both parents were not working it was difficult for her to further her studies. She then started a small business in hospitality that in return assisted her to support her family. Thulisile has a desire to grow her business in the future and create employment in her community.
She said: “When I heard about the challenge I wanted to take part because I know that if I have to leave my business my family can help take care of it and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was the chance to try something new and travel, I didn’t know what sailing was but I like to try new things and I’m a hard worker.”
Thulisile has joined the South Africa sponsored team IchorCoal, one of twelve identical 70 foot ocean racing yachts crewed by amateur sailors under the command of a professional skipper. Thulisile started Race 4: The Elliot Brown Timekeeper Cup from Albany, Western Australia from King George Sound in a moderate south easterly breeze. The 2,088 nautical mile race to Sydney will take Thulisile and the teams further south than on any other leg, this race goes through one of the most inhospitable parts of the planet.
Following her arrival in Sydney, Thulusile will participate in the world famous Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on 26 December to Hobart then on to Airlie Beach in Queensland.
“I am looking forward to Christmas in Sydney. It will be my first time spending Christmas overseas so the cultural experience is just as important as the racing. I am looking forward to the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race and I am ready to go,” Thulisile continued.
“I am excited to start racing, it is all about communication I need to communicate with my team. I used to be quite shy before I joined the foundation and began sailing but now I am a lot less shy. I get quite bad seasickness so that will be a challenge but I know I will be fine and focus on the racing.
“I think the race will help me to learn to work with people and be more patient. I hope to develop communications skills to help build my business and meeting people on the race from all walks of life and different backgrounds will help me with this. I hope this experience will help me to be more open and help other people. I like to help people but I can be shy to approach them. I would like to be able to offer rental property to students and run a real estate with guest houses. We do have a college in our community but not accommodation, you have to travel in and it is more expensive, I would offer affordable housing closer.”
The fleet is expected to arrive in Sydney between 12 to 15 December.
The Clipper Race is the longest ocean endurance challenge around the planet, taking almost 11 months to complete. It set off from London, UK, three months ago and will return there at the end of July next year.